Review: Phoenix #1

Phoenix (1984) #1 cover
Cover by John Byrne and Terry Austin

Phoenix #1
Published and © by Marvel, April 1984

Title: “Phoenix The Untold Story”
Synopsis: Five new pages reveal the originally planned ending to X-Men #137, featuring a different fate for the Phoenix.

Writers (plot): Chris Claremont and John Byrne
Writer (script): Claremont
Penciler: Byrne
Inker: Terry Austin

Review: No matter how tasty the final product, sausage making is rarely pretty. This is particularly true of mainstream comics, which are often created via artistic assembly line. It’s a system that can be blamed, fairly, for some less-than-inspired comics. But it can also yield spectacular results. Case in point: X-Men #137. In an earlier review, this reviewer called it “the best superhero comic” of its era. This special edition – which reprints X-Men #137 with its originally planned ending – illustrates the positive role creative tension and editorial oversight can play. Phoenix #1 is good, but the originally published version is better.

Grade: A

Second opinion: “… surprisingly bland and anticlimactic next to the ‘real’ version.” – The Slings & Arrows Comic Guide (second edition), 2003

Cool factor: Offers DVD-style extras before DVDs were even invented.

Notable: Includes “The Dark Phoenix Tapes” – a round-table interview with the creative team – and the originally planned splash page for X-Men #138.
Collector’s note: According to the Grand Comics Database, there is a $2.25 Canadian variant of this issue.

Character quotable: “Haven’t you already done enough!?!” — Cyclops, after the Shi’ar complete their “psychic lobotomy” of Phoenix

A word from the editor-in-chief: “… I want to make it clear that  it was less my moral problem with a character who was a mass murderer than it was a problem from a story sense.” – Jim Shooter, from “The Dark Phoenix Tapes” in Phoenix #1, April 1984

Editor’s note: This review was originally published by Comics Bronze Age on May 3, 2022.

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